A teenage girl from the state of Victoria has started an online petition calling on the Australian Federal Government for better funding for research into an infectious flesh-eating ulcer, which has left her knee skin damaged.
Ella Crofts was like any other teen until April when her knee started to soar and then deteriorated into an open wound. "I started feeling pain in my knee in early April. Slowly it got worse, with my knee becoming swollen and inflamed, until one day, the skin started breaking down," the 13-year-old from the town of Tyabb said in an online statement.
The girl is suffering from Mycobacterium Ulcerans, commonly known as the Buruli ulcer, that causes severe pain, inflammation and decomposition of tissue and fat.
Crofts said when she first went for the test, it failed to pick up any bacteria. She was prescribed antibiotics for a common infection that made her condition even worse, The BBC reported.
The teenager said she later opted for a biopsy, which came back positive for Mycobacterium Ulcerans. Since then, she has undergone three operations to clean out the dead tissue around her knee. Though the wound is slowly healing, she still walks with a limp.
Infectious disease expert and Associate Prof Daniel O'Brien at the Geelong and Royal Melbourne hospitals, who is handling Crofts' case, said that she had suffered the severe stage of the disease.
"The bacteria get under the skin and slowly eat its way through the skin and the tissue underneath a limb until it's treated. The longer you leave it the worse it gets, it's a progressive, destructive infection," he added.
As the girl has suffered a lot and still struggling with it, she doesn't want anyone to go through it and has started a petition pleading government for better funding into the disease's research.
According to a report, the number of cases of Buruli ulcer recorded in Australia three years ago has tripled this year. The data states that 159 cases of the infection have been recorded in 2017 until September.
The disease is believed to be common in developing countries but with these alarming numbers, Australian health department has become puzzled and deeply concerned as no one knows how to prevent the disease or how it is contracted.
"I would like the government to provide funding and equipment to research mycobacterium ulcerans so then we can find a quicker or more effective way to treat the condition," Crofts was quoted as saying by The Age.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services said it was helping a range of programs investigating the outbreak.
A spokesman for the department said: "Experts from our public health laboratory and the department are currently engaged in collecting possum faeces from a number of locations on the Mornington Peninsula so that it can be analysed for the presence of the bacterium responsible for causing Buruli ulcer."